July 2013

NMDC newsletter: July 2013
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NMDC newsletter: July 2013
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  Parliament and government announcements
 

Responses to the Spending Review from across the sector

George Osbourne announced the results of the government’s latest spending review on 26 June.  Amidst widespread cuts, DCMS has received a decrease of 7%, with 5% being passed on to the museum sector.  The Treasury writes: The UK’s national museums hold uniquely important collections and make a key economic and social contribution.  The Spending Round limits reductions to national museum funding to 5 per cent and maintains the Government’s commitment to free entry.  The Government has also announced a four-year pilot of new operational freedoms to help the sector continue to thrive and to increase self-generated income.  This will enable national museums to take independent decisions on issues such as pay and procurement, and to access finance to unlock new projects, commercial revenues and philanthropic donations. You can read the NMDC’s response directly below this article.  Elsewhere, initial responses across the sector reflected relief that Treasury has listened and understood that museums and galleries could not bear cuts of 10 or even 15% without serious consequences for their ability to function.  Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “A cut of five per cent is a best case scenario in what are difficult and testing economic times for everyone. DCMS and the culture sector have all done a good job in making the case for continued government investment in the arts and culture and highlighting the vital contribution which they are able to make to our quality of life and economy as a result. It’s encouraging to see that the Treasury and Chancellor have taken note”. However, there remains concern about how this latest cut, alongside a series since 2010, will affect smaller and local museums in particular. The Spending Review also contained 10% cuts for Local Government, which councils may be forced to pass on to museums. Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar has written about the economic importance of museums, urging that they should continue to receive enough support to be viable: "We urge local authorities to understand and appreciate the economic, educational and social importance of culture within the whole community. They should take the lead of councillors in Walthamstow and Wakefield: both places have investing in creating award-winning museums that inspire generations of residents and visitors, and put themselves firmly on the global cultural map." There has also been debate about whether culture is generally in bad shape or not.  Writing for the Guardian, Culture Secretary Maria Miller attacked those who say there is a crisis: "I'm frustrated that those of us who enjoy the arts are surrounded by this perpetual gloom. The truth is that we are not returning to the dark ages. It is worth spelling this out in very clear language: culture and the arts are vital. The government is not going to abandon its support for culture, and my department is most emphatically here to stay." She points to the 1bn in lottery funding received by the Arts Council which means that “in cash terms, more money will go to the Arts Council over the lifetime of this parliament than between 2005 and 2010”.  She argues that the current Treasury settlement is the result of putting the case for the arts in economic terms.  The Museums Association however remained unconvinced, arguing that a long series of cuts risks the creation of ‘white elephants’ which would either close or not be able to provide a good service. Arts Council (15 June press release) Arts Council (26th June), Museums Association, Gov.ukArt Fund, BBC, Museums Association (26th June), Guardian, Guardian (two Maria Miller articles), Guardian (full text of this year’s spending review - DCMS settlement begins on page 49)

NMDC response to the 2013 Spending Review

NMDC welcomes the Government's recognition of the unique and vital contribution of museums to our economy and society.  Although a further 5% reduction in funding will be a real challenge, we are glad that arguments for the importance of investment in museums and the arts have been heard.  We await full details of the Spending Review settlement, including cuts to capital funding for national museums. We also welcome the announcement of new operational freedoms for national museums, and thank the Chancellor and Treasury and DCMS colleagues for their commitment to this issue.  Greater freedom from current restrictions around staff pay, procurement and financial management will enable national museums to better raise and spend their own funds, encourage philanthropy and cope with the impact of cuts.  We look forward to working with Government on the implementation of these changes. By 2016 national museums will have had their government funding cut by almost a third in real terms since 2010, and the full impact of cuts across the museum sector is still to be seen.  NMDC is particularly concerned for regional museums in England, which are facing cuts to their funding from both central and local government.  If the 5% cut is passed on in full to the Renaissance in the Regions programme, Government funding for non-national museums will have reduced by a total of 35% by 2016.  The further 10% cut to Local Authority budgets will put critical pressure on funding for museums around the country.  We hope that, in very challenging economic times, councils will continue to invest in culture and recognise the vital benefits that regional museums provide for the economy and well-being of local communities. Whilst museums are becoming ever more successful at fundraising and generating their own income, further public funding cuts will inevitably mean difficult decisions and a reduction in some museum services.  However, museums remain more popular than ever, with over 50 million visits to national museums alone in 2012 and over half of all UK adults and 61% of children now visiting museums each year.  Museums act as a major draw for tourists, offer an essential learning resource, support science and the creative industries, and contribute to the health and well-being of people across the UK.  NMDC members are determined to work together and with partners to maintain this success, and to continue to care for our world class collections and provide the widest possible access to them to educate, entertain and inspire.

Arts and Creative Industries debated in Parliament

An Opposition Day parliamentary debate took place on the cultural sector and creative industries, called by Harriet Harman MP.  It was the first debate on the subject in five years and lasted for several hours.  The headline concerns were around how the cultural sector should be funded, with many examples of its value for money and wider social benefit. In an opening speech Harman reaffirmed the importance of supporting the arts to the economy.  She said: “public support for the arts is repaid over and over. For example, there was a £5,000 public subsidy to support the stage production of “The Woman in Black”. Since then, the production company has paid back more than £12 million in tax to the Treasury.”  She also expressed concern about some local councils undervaluing the sector, pointing to Westminster Council’s 100% cuts as “dangerously like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs”. Harman also said that she had helped set up a network of local councillors across the country to discuss how to better support arts in the local community - sometimes by offering free public spaces or help with back office functions as well as directly with funding. Over 30 MPs spoke in the debate, many raising specific issues in their own regions.  Among the points raised were:
  • The finances of the Science Museum Group.  Hugh Bayley (Lab), MP for York pointed out that it did better than any other museum in attracting a diversity of visitors including those from BME backgrounds and lower socio-econmic groups.  He added that their northern museums are a tourist draw with most people visiting the Railway Museum in York coming from outside Yorkshire.
  • John Whittingdale (Con) raised the issue of how limited funds are spent, asking if £35m spent on a painting is justifiable when it could support multiple buildings on the at risk register.  He also suggested a consideration on the flexibility of national lottery funding for a limited period, given the current funding climate.
  • Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) for Bradford said that investment in museums was as important as their continued existence.  He said that the Media Museum in Bradford ‘had been run down in the past few years’.
  • John Leech (LD) for Manchester reaffirmed the case for free entry, saying that the harm to visitor numbers was ultimately uneconomic.
  • Many MPs talked about the health of the creative industries and their effect on the economy, ranging from the computer games industry to the economic benefit of a zombie movie filmed in Glasgow. 
  • In a rare moment of cross-party harmony Ben Bradshaw (Lab) congratulated Maria Miller on keeping cuts to the arts to 5%.  He then urged her to stand up for the arts in education, reminding the house that  “a student who leaves school at 16 with two arts qualifications is more likely to get a job by the time they are 19 than one who leaves with two science qualifications.”
  • Pete Wishart (SNP) pointed out that the UK is responsible for more digital content than any other country in Europe.  He said it was vital to protect the intellectual property and copyright of these producers, and not allow them to be compromised by large US companies such as Google. He urged the government to put through the measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010 to support this, adding “That could lead to re-industrialisation thanks to the imagination, talent and creativity of the people of our country. Let us do it.”
  • Towards the end of the debate Culture Minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that DCMS would not be abolished, adding “We have moved buildings, but that is a metaphor for this Government. We have better offices, and they cost less, because with this Government we get more for less.”
Some leading arts figures listening to the debate and afterwards interviewed by the Guardian were unimpressed, pointing to the cross party point scoring and lack of engagement between speakers - David Lockwood of Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter was typical in saying "It wasn't a debate, and everyone was there to talk, no one to listen." Even so, the debate did give a vivid picture of how culture, creative industries and museums are faring in different microclimates across the country, with individual MPs making revealing comments about their own passions, from the Stone Roses to Exeter’s museum. Parliament.uk (links to the film and Hansard account of the debate), Creative & Cultural SkillsGuardian  Back to top

  U turns
 

Children to get a History of the World, after 100 objections

Michael Gove is radically redrafting the history curriculum following strong criticism.  It is likely that there will now be a greater emphasis on world history and less on nationalistic concerns.  There will also be more choice for teachers, with many topics becoming optional instead of compulsory.  Originally a chronological curriculum saw primary school children covering the whole of history from the Stone Age to the early 18th century, with 11 – 14 year olds picking up from 1707 - 1989.  Now primary school history lessons will cover fewer centuries and have a more modern scope – including lessons about figures from Tim Berners-Lee to Rosa Parks and Emily Davison.  Some prominent historians had backed the previous draft of the curriculum, but 96% of secondary school history teachers surveyed by the Historical Association thought it was too prescriptive. More than 100 teachers also wrote to the Independent in mid June complaining about the ‘jingoistic’ approach.  One signatory, Katherine Edwards, said “The rhetoric has been extremely bellicose. I think pupils will feel switched off by history if these proposals go through - partly because they will feel they are having a particular agenda forced on them.” Historian Simon Schama echoed this view, saying that the curriculum focused too much on the influence of white British males on the rest of the world, with figures like Mary Secole added as a ‘garnishing of tokenism’. Historian and Labour MP Tristram Hunt added that much current history teaching got it right, but that the subject does not receive enough time: "An average 13-year-old gets an hour a week. Let's make sure that headteachers can give enough space to history to begin with so children can learn about the wonders and excitement of the past." Guardian, Historical Association, Independent, Guardian (Tristram Hunt interview)

Bank of England face men-only banknotes row

It is uncertain whether an emergency history syllabus is being prepared for the Bank of England, after its staff were unable to call to mind any prominent women from history, and decided to replace the image of Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill on the new five pound note.  The change means that there will be no images of women on English currency except for the monarch. A pressure group has formed, and has raised money to legally challenge the Bank on this decision, citing the Equality Act.  Governor Sir Mervyn King has since hinted that Jane Austen is “quietly waiting in the wings” to appear on a new £10 note.  However Labour leader Ed Milliband said "One hundred years on from the great struggle to give the women the right to vote, women should not be waiting quietly in the wings for anything.”  46 Labour MPs and peers have also complained.  Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s language has been more conciliatory, but in a blog she urged the Bank  “to ensure that they play their part in shining a light on successful female figures”.  DCMS blog, BBC, Guardian,

Welsh history education - public urged to give their views on new report

The review group established by The Minister for Education and Skills to consider the teaching of Welsh history has published an interim report The Cwricwlwm Cymreig, Welsh history and the story of Wales. In a short introductory film, historian Dr Elin Jones discusses the thinking of the review group, saying that they want to encourage schools to see Welsh history not just as an ‘add on’ to the history of England, and to encourage a deeper understanding of Welsh history at GCSE. The report has been published on the Learning Wales website and the government is now seeking feedback via online questionnaire and two events.  Learning Wales (links to book for public meetings), Learning Wales (online questionnaire), Youtube (Dr Elin Jones)        

Scotland banishes business speak as arts policy goes back to the drawing board

Creative Scotland’s new Chief Executive Janet Archer is to abandon the organisation’s current vision statement and go back to the drawing board.  Archer was formerly Dance Director at ACE and starts in her post at Creative Scotland on 1st July. The new plan will supersede one written just 2 years ago by previous Chief Exec Andrew Dixon who was forced to resign in 2012.  It had been criticised by many artists in ‘open session’ roadshows held around the country in the spring.  Pat Kane, musician and Yes Scotland Board Member said “the greatest and most common anxiety was that a ‘financialised’ and ‘corporatised’ language...had become too dominant in the operations of Creative Scotland.” Meanwhile Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has given a speech at Edinburgh University rejecting the prevailing political position in England, that the arts have to make an economic case for themselves: "Firstly, I will take the opportunity to set out how distinct this Government’s approach is from the position set out last month by the UK Government’s Culture Secretary…I don't agree. I don't need or want the culture or heritage sector to make a new economic or social case to justify public support for their work. I know what these sectors can deliver because I see it in action. I visit hardworking artists and practitioners who are exploring new ways of working; and who are creating dynamic and exciting new ways of enjoying and sharing their work and the work of our ancestors – they think in new ways precisely because they are artists." Scotsman, Herald Scotland, Herald Scotland (Fiona Hyslop speech), Scotland.gov.uk Back to top

  Measuring and defending culture
 

Museums Change Lives campaign launches

The Museums Association have launched a new ‘Museums Change Lives’ campaign, building on their Museums 20:20 work.  The campaign will look at how museums can become more deeply engaged in their communities - whether that's through offering space to community groups, or work with isolated, unemployed, young and homeless people. Its three main themes are: Launching the work Tony Butler of the Happy Museum project said “Museums are starting to think in very different ways about how they connect in their communities, establishing more mutual relationships with civil society groups, trying to measure their impacts in different ways - social return on investment, or trying to value their happiness through their experience with culture.”  Tweet your thoughts using #museumschangelives.  Museums Association, BBC

Art for Art’s Sake?

A new report has sifted studies stretching back sixty years to search for evidence of transferable skills learned in arts education. Art for Art’s Sake? - the impact of Arts Education traces the effects of music, theatre, visual arts and more on aptitude in subjects like science and maths, as well as on grasping language and improving memory.  The report’s authors also ask whether it develops useful skills for an innovation-directed economy.  There is strong evidence in some areas, for example: “music education strengthens IQ (intelligence quotient), academic performance, word decoding and phonological skills and there is preliminary evidence that music education might facilitate foreign language learning.”  Many areas need more research, but this report neatly summarises what we do know, and suggests the next moves to discover more.  Philanthropy Impact, OECD

London Councils launch database to protect arts

London Councils have put together a database of information to defend arts spend in the capital - particularly by linking the arts to socially desirable outcomes like reducing crime and improving health. For instance, it shows that “participation in structured arts activities improves young people's cognitive abilities test scores by 16 per cent and 19 per cent on average, above that of non-participants”. Material also covers the contribution of arts to the economy.  The database is currently a multi-tabbed spreadsheet pulling together information from the Arts Council and other sources.  London Councils, Arts Industry

British Council report shows the importance of ‘soft power’ internationally

A new report by the British Council and Demos paints a fascinating picture of the role of ‘soft power’ and culture in the ascent and position of nations on the global stage.  Demos writes: Cultural contact between nations used to involve high art and elite meetings: Harold Macmillan visiting the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow with Khrushchev in 1959 is a paradigmatic example. But in the 21st century both culture and communication have become democratised.  Cheap flights, 24 hour news, migration and the internet have combined to create a world of mass peer-to-peer communication; and the content of much of that communication is cultural. Culture – the means we use to express ourselves through art, film, music, dance, literature and so on - provides a bridge between people. The fallout from this democratic engagement can be profound: it affects which alliances and political positions politicians are able to create.  In a speech in 2012, Chinese leader Hu Jintao regretted the fact that although Chinese economic power is huge, soft cultural power still resides with Europe.  The race for soft power is likely to get tougher as countries like Brazil and China up their game.  But Demos says “the countries that ‘win’ this race for soft power will be those whose citizens are culturally, as well as intellectually and emotionally, intelligent”.  British Council DG Martin Davidson said: “Governments can't control soft power, but they can create the conditions through sustained investment and support of cultural institutions - and many are doing that, especially emerging powers like China”. British Council, Demos

Crafts Council responds in full to its Creative Industries reclassification

The Crafts Council has responded to the government’s plans to alter how craft activity is included in its creative industries measurements.  In a densely argued response they look at how craft activity could be better represented, by adding additional ‘codes’ for types of activity.  They say there is an urgent need to find better ways of recording the work coming from creative microbusinesses, not just in craft, but in other professions such as music. Crafts Council Also: Engage are seeking contributions to their journal on the theme of ‘critical craft’ - they are interested in how the line between ‘art’ and ‘craft’ is drawn and to what extent it is a useful distinction.  Those interested in writing a piece should send a 300 word précis to Engage before noon on 8th July.  Engage 

Collections Trust campaigns to keep European funding for Europeana alive

The Europeana database, which connects and collects 27 million items of European cultural material, may see its funding removed due to EU cuts.  A petition and campaign has now been launched to highlight the importance of its work, supported by the Collections Trust.  Europeana says “Together, we’re pioneering new ways to engage people in culture through websites, apps, software and social media, through sharing our expertise, business models and code, and through services for education and tourism…Europe can’t afford to lose a service that is both good for people and good for the economy.” The campaign is also being supported on Twitter under the #allezculture hashtag.  Collections Trust, Ipetitions

What Next? seeks input through 'culture grid'

The arts campaigning group What Next? is starting a national conversation, aiming to collectively use individual communication channels - such as mailing lists, social media, brochures - to regularly talk about the wider impact and value of our work. This will be called the What Next? Grid.
 
The group are now building a database of venues, individuals and organisations who are interested in taking part in the experiment.  What Next? say they already have 60 organisations signed up, with a potential to reach one million email addresses.  Take the survey here Back to top

  Museums at risk
 

Ed Vaizey promises that Northern museums are safe

Suggestions that one of the Northern museums in the Science Museum Group might have to close if cultural cuts were too deep caused waves of protest during June, including a petition in Manchester which raised over 30,000 signatures within 24 hours. The museums potentially under threat were the National Railway Museum in York, National Media Museum in Bradford and Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry.  Voices well beyond the sector from blogging bishops to the progressive pressure group 38 degrees were quick to support the museums.  However Culture Minister Ed Vaizey says that cuts limited to 5% mean that the museums will remain open.  “They are not going to receive those level of cuts so there is no reason why any of these museums should close. Let’s not beat about the bush - they won’t close.” The Science Museum Group has a large operational deficit from 2014 onwards.  It has had a cut of 25% of its budget in real terms since 2010, and has lost 89 staff.  Arts Industry, Museums Journal  Shortly after the press speculation began the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee announced an Inquiry into the Future of the Science Museum Group.  Director Ian Blatchford, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and leaders of Bradford, Manchester and York councils gave oral evidence to the Committee at a one-off session on 2 July.  The session covered various aspects of the Science Museum Group's funding, structure and governance.  Issues raised included the possibility of funding for the Science Museum Group from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which the Culture Minister confirmed he would welcome.  Watch the full evidence session on the Parliament website hereCMS Select Committee  Museums Journal

Black Country Living Museum struggles to balance the books

The Black Country Living Museum’s accounts for 2012 have been published and show a shortfall of £600,000.  The main factor in the losses are visitor figures, which were 249,000 last year, against a plan of 300,000.  Chairman John Hughes said that bad weather had deterred many, and there were lower levels of spend on the site “in common with many chargeable outdoor attractions”. The museum is largely self-funding, having lost £70,000 of support from Dudley Council in its last round of cuts.  The Museum has however received £157,000 recently as part of an Arts Council grant to generate specific projects.  Last year the museum cut staff and opening hours in an effort to control costs.  There are unlikely to be more redundancies, but the museum is now working with AIM to create investment plans to make the museum more self-sufficient. Express and Star, Museums Journal, Charity Commission (BCLM’s annual accounts)

Croydon Museum seeks to sell some of the Riesco Collection

Croydon Council is said to be exploring whether to sell 24 pieces from its Riesco collection of Chinese ceramics in order to raise £13m.  A source at the British Museum, which has a long term relationship with Croydon in looking after the collection, said “This is not the kind of disposal, the break-up of a well-known collection, that we would normally like to see or encourage.”  The Museums Association has questioned the ethics of the proposed sale and has written to Croydon Council.  The Council says that it wants to use the money to refurbish the Fairfield Hall music venue, and that the Riesco family is content with the plans.  Riesco Gallery, Inside Croydon, Museums Association Back to top

  Philanthropy
 

Maria Miller seeks new Angela Burdett-Coutts

In a speech given at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on 21st June Culture Secretary Maria Miller again reflected on the sources of income for the cultural sector and called for more philanthropists to come forward.  She recalled the life of the immensely wealthy Angela Burdett-Coutts whose extensive and eclectic giving made her famous in Victorian England.  Miller said: “as well as building schools and churches, she funded drinking fountains for dogs, social housing, the first archaeological survey of Jerusalem (in order to improve its sanitation), soup kitchens for the poor, training for nurses, free milk for children and the church bells of St Paul’s Cathedral, and a bewildering array of other causes.” Miller said that she also wanted to increase the amount of legacy giving to charity, which currently stands at just 7%, to increase philanthropy outside London and encourage ‘crowdsourced’ giving, where thousands of non-wealthy donors are able to chip in to fund projects.  Responding to the report, Philip Spedding of Arts & Business said that the emphasis on philanthropy in Miller’s speech did not reflect the reality of how most non-government giving is structured. He writes: "Our recent research on private sector investment in culture shows that 57.7% of all the money from Individuals to culture is given to join a friends or membership programme. 59% of business money comes in the form of sponsorship. The latter is a very commercial decision and the antithesis of philanthropy." He argues that arts organisations should be looking for mutually beneficial arrangements with business, rather than philanthropists. Gov.uk, Arts & Business

Charity Commission to produce database of how charities spend their money

A recent Ipsos Mori study showed that lack of knowledge of how charities spend their money is a significant barrier to trust and giving.  From March 2014, the Charity Commission will produce a new database showing headline figures of all spend for charities with a turnover greater than £500,000.  Philanthropy Impact, Gov.uk

New Fellowships scheme open to arts fundraisers

A new fundraising and philanthropy fellowship programme has opened, supported by the Arts Council.  The first eleven recipients will be chosen in July (applications closed on July 1st) but there will be further places and funding in 2014.  All those taking part will be placed within arts organisations ranging from Tate Liverpool to Sadlers Wells Theatre.Philanthropy Impact, Arts Fundraising Back to top

  Jobs and Honours
 

Baldrick and Blackadder in Birthday Honours

Blackadder actor and Time Team presenter Tony Robinson has promised to rescue damsels and slay dragons following his knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours.  He continues a little more realistically “I'll use my new title with abandon to highlight the causes I believe in, particularly the importance of culture, the arts and heritage in our society, and the plight of the infirm elderly and their carers". Other arts honours include an Order of Companion of Honour for Sir Nick Serota, one of just 65 issued across the commonwealth, and a CBE for Oliver Stocken, Chair of Trustees at the Natural History Museum, for services to the arts.  CBEs also went to Rowan Atkinson, Grayson Perry, and Chairman of the Historic Royal Palaces Charles MacKay.  Among arts philanthropists there was a knighthood Michael Hintze and a damehood for Janet de Botton.  Arts Industry, BBC

Other moves

Christopher Brown is to retire at Director of the Ashmolean Museum after 16 years.  There are plans for a fund in his name to support curatorial fellowships at the museum.  Arts Industry, Museums Journal John Orna-Ornstein is to become ACE’s new Director of Museums.  Orna-Ornstein was previously at the British Museum for 15 years.  He will take up his new post in September.  Museums Journal, Youtube Tate St Ives Artistic Director Martin Clark is to be the new director of the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway, succeeding Solveig Øvstebø.  Janet Archer, currently Director of Dance for ACE, became new Chief Executive of Creative Scotland on 1st July. Back to top

  New museums, summer exhibitions
 

New museum opens in Barnsley

Barnsley got a new museum at the end of June, opening in the Old Town Hall.  It is the first to focus on the history of the town and is described as a museum ‘for the people by the people’ with the majority of objects being donated or loaned by locals.  There is also a film and sound archive.  A short film giving a preview includes a live brass band, a chance for younger visitors to practice archeological excavation, and a tour of memorabilia from the second world war to the miners strike. Barnsley Live, The Star (five minute film of new museum).

Parting the seas…

The RAF museum has succeeded in its second attempt to raise a Dornier Do17 plane from the Goodwin Sands.  The German bomber was shot down 72 years ago during the Battle of Britain, and started to emerge from the sands two years ago.  First pictures of the raised aircraft look very rusty but the museum says that “other than marine concretion it is largely intact, the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during their final landing”.  The aircraft has now been sent to RAF Cosford for hydration and preservation over the next two years, where it will also be on view to the public.  RAF Museum (current images of plane), RAF museum (Dornier in 1940)

… and making the earth move

Meanwhile an exhibition at the National Army Museum opening on 19th July will explore the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (home made landmines) in warfare.  It draws on powerful first person accounts, including that of Captain David Henson, RE: “I'd stood on an IED. And I started screaming. But it wasn't like a scream of pain because there wasn't really that much pain at that point: it was a scream of just sheer frustration… because it was at that point you realise that things are going to change, quite significantly." Unseen Enemy looks at the history of the weapon, the battle on the ground and the medical aftermath.  The exhibition continues until 31st March National Army Museum

Making the earth move II: British Museum’s summer blockbuster disaster movie

The British Museum’s summer project brings a slightly more cool and scholarly dimension to the disaster movie genre which once brought us Towering Inferno and Piranha II: Flying Menace. A live broadcast of the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, explored the day when a volcano destroyed both cities.  Pompeii Live showed in 280 cinemas across the UK on 18th June, with repeats still continuing and a special showing for schools.  The film gives a private tour of the exhibition led by Peter Snow and Bettany Hughes.  It reflects vision of the museum reaching well beyond its own walls to become, among other things, a multimedia publishing company. Here, uniquely, it combined the mass audience of cinema with the immediacy of a live event.  The museum has had a record-breaking 1.7m visitors since April, with figures for May up 43% on the previous year.  The popularity of Pompeii is a strong element of this success. Pompeii Live, Guardian

Visual Arts cinema

Visual Arts exhibitions as cinema screenings are also an idea being developed by the group Seventh Art Productions.  Exhibition: Great Art on Screen began with Manet: Portraying Life at the Royal Academy in April and continues with Vermeer in October which will be filmed in the National Gallery. For each film a presenter show talks about the history of the art and artist while walking through the exhibition and showing very high res digitised images of the paintings themselves. Events are screened in 1000 venues in 30 countries, reaching regions which have few major art exhibitions. Seventh Art are hoping to fund future productions with a Kickstarter campaign.  Exhibition Screen, Kickstarter Also: Another museum putting the big screen to good use is the National Maritime Museum, who will be projecting NASA's latest images from Mars onto a 13m curved wall during an evening under the stars as part of their 'Envisioning the Universe' events, hosted by 'opera singer and sound healer' Emma Curtis. National Maritime Museum

Little Green Men Evade Capture

The National Archives have released their tenth and final tranche of UFO files, material collected by the Ministry of Defence since the 50s.  The papers also reveal the reason for the desk’s closure in 2009 - after more than sixty years, and with a spiralling number of alleged sightings, the MoD has never received a report with defence significance.  The final batch of papers include a child’s pencil sketch of an alien giving a valedictory wave. National Archives

Museum of London plans to attract 1.5 million visitors per year

The Museum of London has published plans which will steer its work until 2018. Director Sharon Ament says that the museum wants to become better known to more than double its annual footfall to 1.5 million each year. Comparing London to ‘cool, sophisticated, funny, sexy’ Michael Caine, she says she would like the Museum of London to reflect the nature of the city.  She adds that the museum also wants to ‘stand on its own two feet’ and generate more of its own money to reach an annual income of £100 million.  However the reorganisation will also mean redundancies this year as the museum reduces its operating budget by £1m.  The detail of these will be announced in the autumn.  Museum of London

City of Culture Shortlist Announced

Four cities have been shortlisted for the UK’s first City of Culture title, to begin in 2017.  Dundee, Hull, Swansea and Leicester continue to be in the running.  Panel member Phil Redmond said “the four short listed cities offered plans that were ambitious, realistic and would not only deliver for their communities, but would also maintain the momentum created around the success of Derry-Londonderry.” Final bids will now be submitted by all four cities, and a winner will be announced in November. Meanwhile, at the six month mark in Derry/Londonderry’s year as City of Culture, Chief Executive Shona McCarthy has blogged on the city’s experiences for DCMS.  Arts Industry, BBC, Gov.uk, DCMS Blog Back to top

  A child's eye on museums
 

Bristol Art Gallery acquires very early Turner

Bristol Art Gallery has purchased a picture of Avon Gorge painted by JMW Turner when he was just sixteen years old.  It was painted between 1791 - 2 when the artist was staying with friends near Bristol.  Julie Finch, head of Bristol’s Museums and Art Galleries said “The watercolour will help to explain and illustrate the aesthetic and historical relevance of the Bristol landscape and will put Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and the city on the map as a destination for Turner enthusiasts.” Bristol Culture,

Kids in Museums plan ‘Takeover Day’

Kids in Museums are planning a ‘takeover day’ in November where children and teenagers will be given meaningful jobs alongside staff in many museums.  They are providing case studies and online resources for museums considering taking part.  For more information email [email protected]  Kids in Museums, Museums Galleries Scotland

Wellcome Collection planning major new extension

The Wellcome Collection is embarking on a £17.5m extension, which will create new and expanded spaces and unite the whole building with a dramatic spiral staircase.  A new studio will focus on events co-produced with 14 - 19 years olds.  Wellcome Collection

Family Arts Campaign launches first festival

Earlier in the year the Family Arts Campaign was formed to engage more families with the visual and performing arts.  The campaign is being led by six arts trade bodies including the Visual Arts and Galleries Association.  Now the organisation has announced the largest family oriented arts festival ever planned during 2013/14.  Events will be in collaboration with over 500 partners across Britain, and will include work with the Big Draw.  Family Arts Campaign, VAGA, Arts Council Back to top

  Events
 

Heritage Show + Tell, Yorkshire

The newly opened Barnsley Museum is hosting a museum Show + Tell day on July 18th.  Participants are invited to come and talk for a few minutes about their own project, or just pick up good ideas from other museums. Everyone is welcome including students and freelancers as well as museum professionals.  There will be a tour of the new museum at the beginning of the day.  Heritage Show + Tell

Museomix at Ironbridge Gorge

Museums across Europe, including Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire will be hosting a simultaneous ‘museomix’ - three consecutive days, where participants co-create and test new ways to mediate exhibitions.  Skills from sewing to making objects, writing, 3D printing, journalism and filmmaking are all welcome.  Museomix imagines museums which are:
  • more open, where anyone can find something for themselves
  • a networked actor among multiple communities
  • a living laboratory that evolves with its users and visitors.
Applications to take part are open until 15th July - there is a £50 charge for three days attendance, to cover catering costs.  The organiser can also be contacted on Twitter @mardixon  Museomix

First plans for WW1 commemorations announced

The government has filled in a few more details of the four years of WW1 commemorative events to begin in 2014.  They include vigils and church services on August 4th 2014.  There will also be a large number of battlefield visits for UK schoolchildren.  Two pupils and a teacher will attend from every State funded school in the UK.  A cultural programme will have a budget of £10m and be focussed on the centenaries of the beginning and end of the war as well as July 2016 - 100 years after the battle of the Somme. There has already been some debate about the tone of the events, with the government keen to remember the futility and carnage of war but ‘leave it to historians’ to decide what caused the war.  Gov.uk (press release), Gov.uk (WW1 summary pages), Telegraph Back to top

  Measuring the sector
 

52.8% of adults visit museums in 2012/13

The DCMS Taking Part survey statistics for museum and gallery engagement for the year 2012/13 have been released.  Among the headlines are:
  • Visits to museums and galleries have increased for the eighth consective year since records began and now stand at 52.8%.  Visits to archives and record offices are down by one percentage point from a high of 4.9% in 2007/8 to 3.7% in 2012/13
  • 31% of all adults visited a museum or gallery website in the year ending March 2013, the highest figures since collection began in 2005/6, when the figure was 16%. Increases in visits to library websites moved from 9% to 17% in the same period.
  • BME participation in museums and galleries continues to be much lower than for white groups: in 2012/13 45% visited a museum compared to 54% in white groups. Percentages visiting have however increased by 10% since 2005/6.  BME groups are more likely to visit libraries (45% vs 36%)
  • 31% of adults said they had visited museums or galleries 1-2 times a year, 17 per cent did so 3-4 times a year, 4 per cent at least once a month and 1 per cent went at least once a week.
The stats also compare attendance by region, by age group, by faith and socio-economic status and by whether attendees are in work. Gov.uk, DCMS

Good practice in assessing cultural value

The Warwick Commission has launched a new 18 month enquiry into how the UK should define cultural value, including the role of creativity in skills and education, the contribution of culture to the ecosystem of national social health, and the emergent global trend of large-scale investment in culture from rising economic powers.  The organisers hope the work will frame the debate in the run up to the 2015 election.  High profile artists, policy makers, business leaders and economists will be brought together for the project. Last year the AHRC also made a call for collaboration and funding to explore the future of cultural value.  The two projects are not related, but are in consultation with each other as they progress. Warwick Commission, AHRC

  Digital and copyright
 

Copyright: the experience of open access

The Mellon Foundation has produced a report on how much free access 11 large UK and US museums allow for their images.  All the museums have slightly different approaches, but there are convergent themes.  As the report notes, it is rare for the profits of commercialising museum images to outstrip the costs of managing the process, and loss of control over images is a fading concern.  It also says that providing open access is often a mission-driven decision, and that technology has transformed museums’ attitudes.  The British Museum and V&A were among the participants. Mellon Foundation, Clir (direct link to pdf report)

Share your digital engagement strategy

Following an in depth strategic review in 2010, Derby Museums have produced a Digital Engagement strategy - one which connects to the core purposes of the museum and helps to maximise the return on investment in technology.  They are making the report publically available via the Collections Trust.  CT is now inviting other museums to share their strategies, with a view to improving how digital is used across the sector. Collections Trust Back to top

  Funding
 

Arts Council launches five new funding streams

The Arts Council have launched five new funding streams which open in early July.  They are:
  • Unlimited, a commissioned grant in partnership with the British Council, Creative Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund
  • Cultural destinations, a partnership with VisitEngland, that will develop the relationship between culture and tourism over the next three years
  • the £1.3 million Enterprising Libraries project, in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the British Library
  • a more streamlined approach to Grants for the arts
  • Exceptional awards to fund projects that make a significant additional contribution to helping the Arts Council deliver great art for everyone.
Arts Council

Art Fund reaches 100,000 members

The Art Fund’s membership has now exceeded 100,000 members, who contribute £4.1m per year of its £11m turnover.  The fund has grown by 45% since 2007.  Director Stephen Deuchar said “The UK public is among the most generous in the world, consistently ranking among the top 5 or 10 countries for charitable giving. But we surely now lead in mass giving to the arts – no other country has an organisation like the Art Fund.” The Fund’s annual report says that in 2012 it donated £6.3m to 70 museums and galleries for the acquisition of art including Rachel Whiteread’s Tree of Life on the Whitechapel Art Gallery and Poussain’s Extreme Unction for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Art Fund  

Treasure Plus Fund launched

In other Art Fund news, a new funding stream has been launched to support the display and interpretation of items of treasure once they have been purchased for a museum by the Art Fund.  The grants range from £2k - £10k.  The Art Fund says "we believe that small grants can be used to great effect in a variety of creative ways, from the purchase of new equipment, to a pilot project which tests a new interpretation model using digital technology".  A regional road show is taking place in Norwich on 4th July for interested parties: the first funding deadline is 7th August. Art Fund

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund continues to 2016

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund has announced that it will be releasing a further tranche of money to support access to and use of museum collections until 2016.  The sum given each year has increased from 800k to £1m in recognition of the high demand and large number of good applications in the previous three years.  The Museums Association will continue to administer the fund for the trust. Esmee Fairbairn, Museums Journal, Museums Association (how to apply)

ACE announces artists with grants to tour internationally

Twenty artists have received between 1k - 20k to tour their work internationally, as part of a joint three year programme between the British Council and Arts Council England. Literature, music, theatre and visual arts will travel to 19 countries on four continents. Arts Council(application form, next deadline October), Arts Council (press release)

Catalyst grant recipients announced

The HLF has announced the first batch of successful applicants to its Catalyst scheme, which helps heritage organisations across the UK build resilience by attracting private investment.  £12.3m has been awarded: £8.5m endowment grants and £3.8m to build capacity. The Heritage Alliance has received a £499,800 umbrella grant to deliver Giving to Heritage, a three-year project to support local community groups to learn fundraising skills.  Other beneficiaries include the National Horseracing Museum and Ashmolean who both received endowment grants of £1m. HLF Back to top

  Diversity
 

Call for nominations - Jodi Awards

The annual Jodi Awards for accessible digital culture have put out a call for nominations.  They recognise the best use of digital technology in widening access to information, collections, learning and creativity for disabled people in museums, galleries, libraries and other heritage sites.  The categories for this year have slightly changed and the three awards are now for:
  • Access planning and exceptional levels of user involvement
  • Innovative solutions that make access easier for disabled people
  • Legacy and impact
The closing date is August 2nd. Jodi Awards

Work with young adult carers

Engage Cymru and the National Museum Cardiff have been developing outreach work with young adult carers in Wales.  These are often a forgotten group, with less opportunities to visit and enjoy museums than others their age.  The project taught those involved how to make animations based on paintings in the museum’s collection.  The animations were published in June as part of Carers Week.  Engage Back to top

  Heritage
 

English Heritage splits and takes on new responsibilities

As part of the Spending Review, English Heritage has been awarded £80m to transfer its National Heritage Collection holdings into a separate charity licensed by English Heritage’s governing body.  The NHC collection includes 420 sites including Stonehenge, Dover Castle and Kenwood, all of which will remain in public ownership. Under the arrangement the new charity will be completely self-financing and no longer need taxpayer support.  It will have wider powers to generate charitable and commercial income.  Meanwhile EH’s National Heritage Protection Service will be able to work as a separate body. It plans to offer a more public facing and user friendly approach to providing advice, research and statutory powers to preserving heritage.  English Heritage is pleased with this outcome. "This is an excellent outcome to an extremely challenging Spending Review. This year we have been celebrating 100 years of state protection for heritage and today's announcement sets the scene for the next century.”  ALVA, English Heritage, Museums Journal, Third Sector Also: For anyone who missed it the first time around, the BBC’s excellent documentary about the birth of the heritage movement a century ago is showing again on BBC4 and on iplayer.  BBC iplayer

Heritage and the spending review

While cuts to museums and galleries were not as great as feared, it is not yet clear how deeply cuts to the Heritage sector are likely to bite.  The Heritage Alliance welcomed George Osbourne’s recognition of the importance of heritage, but added “it is really important the Government understands that money is not simply ‘spent’ on old buildings but invested in the nation’s single greatest asset to create a myriad of business activities that achieve positive financial returns as well as jobs across the country”. Writing for the Guardian Matthew Slocombe, Director of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, expressed the fear that heritage might be seen as an ‘unaffordable luxury’ adding “If heritage is hammered again, after the hammering of 2010, it will be looked upon by future generations as one of the greatest tragedies of the current cuts.” Guardian, Heritage Alliance newsletter, Heritage Alliance

How many tourists come in a day to an English Country Garden?

Visit Britain has published new statistics on visits to parks and gardens by overseas visitors.  They show that around a third of the 31 million people who visit each year go to a garden during their stay - with the chances increasing the longer their stay.  Younger people are much more likely to choose an outdoor-based attraction than older visitors (2.4 million of those aged 25 - 34 compared to 1.4 million of those aged 55- 64).  July - September are the most popular months for visiting parks and gardens, showing that weather is a strong factor.  By nationality the French are the most likely to visit, followed by the Americans: however American tourists spend three times as much per head during their stay.  Visit Britain

Architecture review issues call for evidence

Earlier in the year Culture Minister Ed Vaizey asked Sir Terry Farrell to initiate a review of Architecture and the Built Environment.  The review is looking at Design Quality, Economic Benefit, Cultural Heritage and Education.  The review has now issued a call for evidence and has published a structured form for people to respond.  The Farrell Review, Survey link Back to top

  Jobs
 
 For a full list of current vacancies and how to apply, visit our website here. Back to top 

And finally…. The Case of the Spinning Statue

When a 4,000 year old Egyptian statue seemed to slowly but spontaneously rotate in its glass case, Manchester Museum staff did not panic or reach for curse-of-the-mummy type explanations.  Instead curator Campbell Price used time lapse photography to track the movements of the 10” image of Egyptian civil servant Neb-Senu.  The resulting film, clearly showing the statue’s unassisted rotation over several days, has caused a storm of media interest as far away as America and Japan. It has also brought a flock of locals to the museum.  Meanwhile, TV physicist Professor Brian Cox has pitched in suggesting ‘differential friction’ as a partial explanation, but no-one has yet worked out what force has set that in motion. As of early July, Manchester Museum is still perplexed, but will be reporting developments on their Egypt blog.  You can also tweet via hashtag #spinningstatue to suggest any natural or supernatural solutions that come to mind.  Telegraph, Manchester Museum’s Egypt blog
 
 

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